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Conservatory Chronicles
 Issue #48                                                                                                     
October, 2011
In This Issue
Holiday Party Rentals
What's In Bloom?
A Visit To TCHO
Costumes on Halloween Get Children in for Free!
Interview with a Bartender
OCT 19 The Fine Art of Poisoning
Green&Gold Gala Invitation
All Aboard for a Discount to Walt Disney Family Museum
Wish List
Wicked Plants Press

Conservatory Chronicles


Morgan Davis 
Content Contributors:
Annie Abernethy  


This year's Garden Railway takes you on a trip through time...  

Playland at the Conservatory Banner

Visit Us
Tuesday - Sunday

10am - 4:30pm (last entry is at 4:00pm)

The Conservatory is closed on Mondays.


Please note that on Sundays and all major holidays, Golden Gate Park closes many of its roads to all vehicle traffic.

Information line:


$7.00 for Adults

$5.00 for Youth 12-17, Seniors age 65 & over, and College Students with ID

$2.00 for Children 5-11

Free for Children 4 and under


Discounts available to all San Francisco City and County residents with proof of residency
The Conservatory is free to all visitors on the first Tuesday of every month.


The Conservatory Of Flowers is wheelchair accessible for both motorized and non motorized chairs. Handicap permit parking is located at the east side of the building and also on John F. Kennedy Drive in front of the Conservatory. Strollers are not allowed in the Conservatory.


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Purple orchid photo by Todd Worley

 Your donation will help ensure the continued growth and success of this unique educational and historic living museum. 
Click here to make a donation through our secure online form.  

Garden Railway 2009
Theme your Party:

Design your own event:
 ~ Cocktail Reception ~
~ Dinner & Dancing ~
~ After Hours Tour ~

Click here for more info on tours and booking, or email!




October is such a fun and busy month each year within the 1879 Conservatory of Flowers. This year in particular, as our community enjoys celebrating the second most popular holiday, we'll bid farewell to the spook fest in the soil that we've been enjoying all summer! We'll celebrate the haunting elements of the show, during The Fine Art of Poisoning on October 19, and Halloween weekend we'll see the closing days - and we invite you to bring your little ghouls in costume for free admission. It should be no surprise that Wicked Plants has become one of the Conservatory's most popular Special Exhibits! We thank all of you for infecting your communities and spreading the word about this bloodcurdling exhibit! Author Amy Stewart has been a remarkably creative and collaborative force who contributed greatly to the botanical interest and intrigue of the show. We are so grateful to Amy for her time, visits, ideas and connections. Amy, we wish you the best of luck with your next book, and can't wait to drink it all in!


I hope each of you get the chance to visit to the Conservatory of Flowers before Halloween, to experience the fun side of the plant world's 'wickedness' during our spooky season. And if you don't have one yet, pick up a copy of Amy's Wicked Plants for your personal collection. You'll own one of the over 1,000 copies purchased in our quaint, but extraordinary Gift Shop!  


Thanks for your continued interest and support of the Conservatory of Flowers!


Brent's signature 

Brent Dennis

Horatio, the Mandrake

Meet Horatio the Mandrake! Half Wicked Plant, half Playland Sideshow Act, Horatio bridges the two exhibits that we're all excited about around the Conservatory's hallowed halls. Commonly referred to as Satan's Apple, Mandragora officinarum is classified as a neuropoison/hallucinogen, and is considered extremely poisonous. The plant has featured prominently in history, with tales of murder and mayhem in its trail - perhaps none so memorable as the role it played in the woes of Romeo & Juliet. As the hallowed eve approaches, one might recall that witches and sorcerers used extracts from Mandragora in medieval times - but don't go bobbing for this Satan's Apple while trick-or-treating; if roots and leaves are ingested, induce vomiting and treat with medicinal charcoal or sodium solphate. Look forward to Horatio and other Playland Sideshow Acts, arriving November 18. 


TCHO ChocolatesOn a recent, warm morning in San Francisco a group of volunteers, docents and staff headed to San Francisco's Pier 17 for an Enrichment Program. Navigating the Embarcadero parking situation, we found our way into the TCHO Chocolate Factory, embraced by the intoxicating fragrance of chocolate. "Hairnets, ready!" we were warned, and donned ours accordingly, as entered a small room to learn a little more about how the tropical cacao plant becomes our favorite treat. There was so much to learn about dark chocolate! Our wonderful guide, Tyler, provided an introduction to TCHO and a cultural history of chocolate.  


TCHO is a young company with an impressive pedigree, gathering chocolate makers, tech geeks and successful business minds to put together a progressive and successful model. They also have set a high bar for ethical and environmental standards in the industry. "You'll notice that not all of our chocolates have a Fair Trade certification," Tyler points out. This is because they often work with growers who are so small, they don't have the resources to apply for certification. TCHO also takes a NO SLAVERY stance, and works to educate consumers about the issue of human slavery that exists around the world. Tyler is the Willy Wonka of Powerpoint, using a well-designed slideshow to introduce us to the TCHO chocolate farms and producers around the world. It is striking how involved their executives are with each complex step of the process, and how one company can effect change so far from its little home on Pier 17.  


The presentation isn't complete until the audience gets to watch the infamous scene when Lucy and Ethel head to work on the chocolate conveyor belt. Then it's time to put our hairnets to work, and see where the magic happens. As we were carefully ordered into straight lines, our group felt transformed back to the age of the students we typically provide tours for, standing row by row in pairs, walking carefully within the boundaries of the tour. All around us, the final process of the cacao's transformation into the edible bars took place. Finally, with our hairnets removed, we returned to the finaCacao in Lowland Tropics Gallery l part of the tour: the tasting. Brad Kintzer, Chief Chocolate Maker, joined us as we sample each of TCHO's four signature chocolate flavors, and discussed the different elements we tasted. Our knowledgeable Conservatory docents tried to stump the pros with their questions about the horticulture of cacao, but the TCHO duo held their own! With promises that the chocolate makers would come see our prized cacao plants soon, we gave them a large round of applause and headed to the Gift Shop.

Thank you to Michelle Manzer & Erika Frank for organizing the Volunteer Enrichment!   
On Halloween Weekend (Saturday October 29 & Sunday October 30) children wearing Halloween costumes, aged 11 and under, will receive free admission to the Conservatory of Flowers! 


They aren't all that wicked, but the newest living additions to the Gift Shop are in the Halloween spirit. Paphiopedilum for sale in the Gift ShopOne requires total darkness if you expect a treat- the patchouli plant ($10.00) flowers and produces scent only if it is spared the light after sunset. Paphiopedilum, or Ladyslippers orchids ($20.00), seem to have painted their faces in an array of colors and designs for the whimsical holiday.

Our little shop of horticulture closes its doors with Wicked Plants on October 30th, and reopens with the Playland at the Conservatory during our opening night Gala on November 17th. In the meantime, limited merchandise is always available online at, and limited edition Wicked Plants souvenirs are available through October 30 for 50% off:  


* Claim your crew with a Wicked Plants tee (now $11.00 Kids/$16.00 Adults)    

* The limited edition pint glasses (now $15.00) displaying etchings by Wicked Plants TattoosBriony Morrow-Cribbs, the book's illustrator are SOLD OUT! However,  shot glasses are available for 6.50 each!   

 * For those of you straight-laced and under 18 folks, a sheet of trickster tattoos (now $1.50) make a cheap Halloween costume.    

 * Adorned with a bow, the poison garden kit (now $6.50) holds six seed packets of your favorite mischief-makers.    


 When it comes to the Fine Art of Poisoning, few are to be trusted... For our event this Wednesday, we went straight to the experts at Cocktail Lab, who offered to whip up both the Poison, and the Antidote for our guests. Cocktail Lab is a group of San Francisco Mad Scientists who like to Bartend.. or Bartenders who Like To Do Mad Science, depending on who you ask, or the day of the week. To whet your appetite for the crafty concoctions they'll be serving at the Fine Art of Poisoning, we went behind the scenes, to learn about the Cocktail Lab, with co-founder Ethan Terry. 


Conservatory Chronicles: Ethan, what is your role at Cocktail Lab?Ethan Terry, of the Cocktail Lab

Ethan Terry: I, with the other founding members of Cocktail Lab, am charged with the difficult and unrewarding task of conceptualizing innovative methods of imbibement. We lead really tough lives.


CC: What inspired you to become a renegade bartender?

ET: We have the privilege of working for some of the best bars in the city, but breaking out of the same four walls from time to time is incredibly refreshing. Through Cocktail Lab, we've made drinks in antique shops, Victorian mansions, clandestine music venues, science museums--and now, the Conservatory of Flowers!


CC: What is your college degree? Was there always a little bit of science in your future?

ET: (Chuckles) Interestingly enough, my collegiate pursuits were always a little more right-brained. Creative Writing at my first go-around, and Cinematography, at the second. It should be noted that I hold no degree in either of these fields. Science has always been a hobby. The best part about "cocktail science" is that it encompasses chemistry, biology and physics in almost every aspect of the experience.


CC: Do you have a favorite cocktail to concoct?

ET: My favorite cocktail to make is the one you're ordering! Different drinks have their own individual charms, from the noble Gin & Tonic to something with 19 ingredients and three different state changes involved. Don't let any surly bartender ever convince you that making cocktails isn't fun.The whole gang at the Cocktail Lab


CC: Do you have bartending heroes?

ET: Absolutely! We look up to a number of contemporaries, as well as both barmen and barwomen, and science-minded folks from the past. We're just as inspired by Nikola Tesla as we are by "Cocktail" Bill Boothby.


CC: And what do you sip, when you're at the bar? Out on the town?

ET: As with most of our brothers and sisters in arms, we tend to take our booze straight and room temperature. For the most part, we leave our passion for the cocktail in the lab. We like to think this keeps the inspiration flowing, but truthfully, it has more to do with how awesome whiskey tastes directly out of the bottle.


CC: Well, Ethan! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and in advance, for coming out to the Conservatory on October 19, to harm and charm our guests! Anything else you'd like to share with the Conservatory Chronicles readers?

ET: We'd like to thank everyone for staying curious and awed by the mysteries of the world around us. We're thrilled that this partnership came about!


Tickets are available online and at the door for The Fine Art of Poisoning, at the Conservatory of Flowers on October 19.  

Mark your calendars for upcoming engagements at the Conservatory. You can always visit the website for more upcoming programming and ticket information. 
Jill Tracy with a taxidermy tea party

The Fine Art of Poisoning: Perils, Pleasures and Protocols

An evening of toxic indulgence
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Time: 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Lecture 6:00 PM, Wicked Plants Reception 7:00 PM, Jill Tracy Performance 8:00 PM

Fee: $15 General Public; $10 Medical Students; $5 Conservatory of Flowers Members

"It's quite an elaborate scheme, the fine art of poisoning."

Dr. Kent OlsonEnter the wicked world of toxicology with Wicked Plants PoisonsDr. Olson, Medical Director, San Francisco Division, California Poison Control System - and editor of 'Poisoning & Drug Overdose' as he discusses the real world implications of the wicked plants in our living rooms and our backyards. Let the Cocktail Lab pick your poison (and slip you the antidote). And if you take the queen, and dare to shoot the moon, JAQK Cellars will also be tempting your tastebuds with the divine Bone Dance and Her Majesty. Take pleasure in our poison garden, and as night falls chanteuse Jill Tracy will divulge true perils from the plant kingdom. Backed by members of her Malcontent Orchestra, she will weave a web of cautionary tales, lusty murderous obsessions, and shadowy stories of secretly-served revenge - all inspired by Amy Stewart's tales from Wicked Plants. Enter at your own will. 

For more event info, visit the website or email Special Events & Programs Manager
Morgan Davis. We look forward to greeting you!


Cocktail Lab  Charbay Distillery  Julie Michelle Photography JAQK Cellars logo


Become a Member!

With an exciting, constantly changing program of special exhibitions and seasonal delights,
the Conservatory of Flowers is a great place to bring the whole family more than once a year.
Members admire plants in Aquatics Gallery.

Visit our website to learn about the various tiered benefits for membership levels, and to join!


All membership levels include the following benefits:

* Year-round free admission   

 *10% discount in the Conservatory Gift Shop and selected merchants including Flora Grubb Gardens and The Urban Farmer Store

 * Invitation to exclusive members-only events and discounts for select special events

* Monthly 'Conservatory Chronicles' enews subscription annual print newsletter

* Knowledge that you are an important steward of the historic Conservatory of Flowers

* Reciprocal privileges at more than 250 horticultural organizations in North America through the AHS.


Photo by Photographer and Jungle Pass Member Matt Laws
Escape to the wonderland of San Francisco's gilded era,
beyond the boardwalk, and into paradise by attending
an opening night jubilee in honor of the new special exhibit
Playland at the Conservatory.
Experience the Green & Gold Gala,
and support the Conservatory of Flowers Youth Education Program.
November 17, 2011
Tickets and Information available: 
Green & Gold Gala Playland Image


"I want it to look like nothing else in the world... and it should be surrounded by a train." Walt Disney was referring to his vision for Disneyland, and his love of trains is apparent at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco's scenic Presidio where visitors can view one of the most intricately detailed miniature live-steam home railroads ever created: the Lilly Belle, the one-eighth scale Carolwood Pacific Railroad that Walt helped build in his backyard. Plus, all month long in October, see The Great Locomotive Chase on the big screen at the Museum. Conservatory friends: Print out this email and bring it the Museum for $3 off admission. Valid for up to 4 people, through December 31, 2011.

ABOUT THE MUSEUMWalt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum presents the fascinating story and achievements of Walt Disney, the man who raised animation to an art, transformed the film industry, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a global and distinctively American legacy. Opened in October 2009, the 40,000 square foot facility features the newest technology and historic materials and artifacts to bring Disney's achievements to life, with interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a 14-foot model of Disneyland and much more.





ends October 26!   

Upper Haight Farmers Market  

Waller & Stanyan  

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm  



Off the Grid: Upper Haight   

Waller & Stanyan  

4:30 pm - 8:30 pm


Monday, October 24  

Idealist GradFair 

Country Fair Building

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm 


Tuesday, October 25  

Golden Gate Park: A Stroll Through History

with landscape historian and author, Heath Schenker  

presented by the SFParksAlliance

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm  

RSVP by clicking the title  

Fee $10  


Saturday, October 29  

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

1798 McAllister Street @ Baker

Fee $36

Sutro's Movie Poster
Friday, November 4
Opening Night!
...from the director of Playland at the Beach, the new documentary film.   

3630 Balboa Street 


Sunday, November 6  

Native Plants: Their Care and Pruning  

Sloat Gardens, Sloat Boulevard Location

10:00 am  


Alison and Nathan

One of the 2010 COF weddings was the marriage of two creative and crafty minds. Their big day was featured in 7x7's wedding blog.

Read the full article online:

 Tech Geek Wedding at Conservatory of Flowers 

Photo Credits: Mapurunga Photography



Hand Carts and Dolleys for Daily Operations


   Hi Lumen Projector and Screen for Presentations 


Drape Sponsorship for the Orchid Gallery Interior Decoration Upgrade 


2 Podiums for Lectures and Presentations


Chalk Board for Announcing Upcoming Events and Deals 


Flashlights for Jungle Guides and Docents


Contact Morgan Davis with items for in kind donation!





The San Francisco Chronicle Leah Garchik gets literary with Quiet Lightning. 

SF Parks & Recreations Get Out & Play View our videos on YouTube features interviews with Amy Stewart and Exhibits Director Lau Hodges, and introduces viewers to the bewitching plants.

Local blogger Tina Tarnoff artfully disentangles the Wicked Plants.  


Gardening Gone Wild contributor Saxon Holt photographs the plants that star in the exhibit.  


Oregon Floral Designers Blum give a visitor's perspective of the scene in Wicked Plants.

7x7 blogs about the sinister exhibit, and offers Christopher Walken as an unlikely spokesperson.

Sunset's Fresh Dirt blog admits its our turn to dig into Amy Stewart's novel and the fun it delivers, and dares visitors to experience it themselves.

Exhibits Director Lau Hodges introduces many of the 'killer plants' featured in Wicked Plants in a behind the scenes exhibit tour on KTVU.

ABC7 News interviews Amy Stewart and Lau Hodges in the exhibit, and discovers which plants was ironically deemed too dangerous to display in the park.
The San Francisco Chronicle crowns Amy Stewart a "garden rock star" in its feature on Wicked Plants.

The Richmond Blog warns you to watch your back, and shares a number of photos of the exhibit. 

Micheal Leaverton of SFWeekly introduces some of the less appealing side effects of the "plants that rack up body counts."          


Conservatory Chronicles 5

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